Perspective on Retallack Proposal by Local Author/Historian

Perspective on Retallack Proposal by Local Author and Historian Luanne Armstrong.

Note: The deadline for feedback to the Ministry has been extended until June 14th.

Email your comments to:
Christine Lohr, Land Officer, Kootenay Boundary Region, Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca
CC to: Doug Donaldson, FNLRORD at FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
CC to: Michelle Mungall, MLA, at michelle.mungallMLA@leg.bc.ca
Quote file # 4405 893

May 8, 2018: Boswell, BC – I have spent the last two weeks studying the Retallack Proposal for heli-skiing and heli-biking on the east shore. I will tell you up front that I am very opposed to this proposal as it stands, because of its size, its potential impact on our community, and its potential impact on all the wildlife of the south Purcells. I am not at all opposed to tourism or tourist development that fits with our beautiful community.

In terms of scope, this proposal is asking for tenure on most of the alpine areas of the south Purcells, right from along the edge of Purcell Wildnerness Conservancy as far as Lockhart and then back east to the St. Mary’s drainage. Please look carefully at the maps in the online proposa.

This morning, Terry Turner, who has hiked almost every mountain in the Purcells, came for tea and we looked carefully at all the maps and identified the helipad locations and fuel caches. So I urge all you to download this proposal and read it very carefully, looking at all the maps, all the proposed 161 kilometes of bike trails, mostly through alpine areas, all the proposaed helipads and fuel caches, both at Kaslo and Ainsworth, as well as all along the east shore. There is a possibility of 12 flights or more per day, (according to Wildsight figures), mostly over Crawford Creek Pass, Rose Pass, and Gray Creek Pass.

It has been shown in other areas that the noise of helicopters, hikers and skiiers have a very deleterious effect, particularly on grizzly bears, wolverines, and mountain goats. All of the populations of these animals are presently dropping. Noise also has a huge impact on bird populations.

The spill of helicopter fuel in Lemon Creek in the Slocan is still in court, many years later. Any spill in any creek, leading into Kootenay Lake, would be disastous. The fish population in Kootenay Lake is right now in trouble due to a virus in the Kamloops Trout, the extirpation of the South End Kokanee population, and the dropping numbers of Kokanee spawners in the creeks around the lake.

This is not a Ktunaxa proposal. The Yaqan Nukiy people would have some share in the lodge to be built at Burden’s Cut. No one has yet seen this agreement and there are letters from people in Yaqan Nukiy who are very opposed to this development.

Tourism would not benefit much from this. Retallack sells “in house” three to five day packages that are contained within the lodge and the up to five mountain “cabins.” Many people will come in by shuttle bus to the lodge so there will be almost no opportunity to visit the rest of the community. In fact, I have had communications with people in New Denver who have found that Retallack is not a good neighbour and has tried to shut down competing businesses.

As a community, we have until June 14th to communicate our concerns to the government. If the community is not in favour of this development, it will not go forward. My position is that this proposal is too big and too few people understand it. I am going to say to the government, please just stop while we study this, organize community meetings where people can share information and concerns. I believe we definitely need to develop land committees to come up with policies that will ensure that development in our community takes in all the aspects of such development, including on wildlife and ecology. Impacts on wildlife and ecology are present not taken into account in these proposals, and there is also no monitoring in place.

Personally, I believe the impact of such a huge proposal on our community will be very deleterious to both the wildlife, the ecology, and the people. I am not in any way against sane, sensible tourism development that fits with our small community and our way of life.

Here are the addresses you need to know. Also, please free to get in touch with me either by phone (250-223-8203) or by email, luannea@telus.net. I am going to continue to study, research and write about this proposal. I am quite willing to come speak anywhere, anytime.

YOU MAY HAVE TO DOWNLOAD THE PROPOSAL WITH YOUR WEB BROWSER AND THEN SAVE IT AS A PDF.

Public Website: https://arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/viewpost.jsp?PostID=54966

For further information or to express your point of view, contact:

Christine Lohr, Land Officer, Kootenay Boundary Region, Christine.Lohr@gov.bc.ca
CC to: Doug Donaldson, FNLRORD at FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
CC to: Michelle Mungall, MLA, at michelle.mungallMLA@leg.bc.ca
Quote file # 4405 893

Here is a summary of the proposed tenure but it is much more complicated than this; there are seven proposed helipads and a possibility of twelve helicopters per day over Crawford and Gray Creek.

Potential Future Lodge location – Lower reaches of La France Creek (Burdens Cut) on Lower Kootenay band treaty negotiated land. Two Operating Zones will be used for heli skiing, heli assisted ski touring, heli biking, mountain biking, heli hiking, and more…The exact usage rates are somewhat unclear but it will be in the thousands. Question: Is max capacity for the South Purcells 3600 yearly or 3600 for heli skiing? 71,000 ha of proposed all season and multiple use section 17 tenure for 45 years. 161km of alpine mountain bike trails – all new and presumably mainly alpine trails in areas that see very little human use

Drainages Affected, North to South:

  • Powder Creek
  • Bernard Creek – upper Bernard is high value – lots of moderate passes/terrain, lakes, etc.
  • Loki Peak:last unloaded drainage draining into Kootenay Lake other than Lockhart south of the Conservancy
  • Upper Crawford
  • Tom O’Shanter
  • Indian Creek
  • South 59,000 ha

Drainages Affected – Phase Two Development, North to South:

  • Pretty much all drainages in this tenure are high value for grizzlies, goats, wolverines, intactness, etc.
  • Upper St Mary’s River and Dewar Creekincluding Calamity, Coppery, La Pierre, Office, Sawyer, Morris Flatrock, and Hungary Creek(s).
  • White Creek from forks north just north of to boulder creek encompassing small tributaries and mountain to valley terrain on both side of valley including subdrainages northwest of Berglien lake and mount patrick and manson drainage.
  • South to Higgins Peak and unroaded unnamed steep drainages that flow into white creek and St Mary’s.
  • Middle St Mary’s and Redding – Mt Bonner and all of the lower and middle reaches of Redding Creek.
  • Lower reaches of Baribeau
  • All of Parkers Creek
  • All of Hall Lake Creek
  • All of unnamed and unroaded drainage East of Hall Lake Creek – high wildlife value.
  • All of Tower creek – currently intact and believed to be very high value.
  • Lower St Mary’s and Meachen Creek (could see most action for winter heli skiing given proximity to proposed lodge location)
  • Upper Murphy and almost all of Pyramid creek included in tenure.
  • Lower and middle sections of meachen on both sides of valley
  • Mayo and Aisla Lake Drainages – caribou concerns?
  • Snowcrest and Mount Evans
  • Mallendine Pass

Here are just a few questions for which there are no answers.

Nothing is known about the impact of this development on traffic, noise, ferry delays, land prices, increased taxes, or where workers would stay. Following is a partial list of questions. Please feel free to add your own. We need an immediate moratorium on this development until as least some of these questions can be answered. For example, they promise “to leave no trace on the landscape.” How is this compatible with building bike trails, helicopter landing pads, and constant noise? We need an organized and collective community response to this proposal We need moratorium to be be instituted so that the community can be fully informed and studies can be done as to whether this proposal is compatible with our community values or not.

Retallack Development Questions:

1. We need a copy of the actual plan, not just vague ideas of a Lodge of an unknown size, possibly at Burden’s Cut, possibly at La France Creek. Retallack has not come to the community with concrete information as to things like sitings of helicopter pads, numbers of flights, carbon footprint of the development. The only information that has been made is on the government website. Neither Retallack nor the Yaqan Nukiy has come to the community and made themselves open and available with specific information of the impact of this proposal on this community. So far, we have had a poster meeting with vague promises that this will somehow be a “low impact” development.

2. The East Shore is a small, close community with a high population of retired seniors. Issues for community impact would include noise, intrusion, access to the back country, ferry waits, lack of services on the east shore, lack of affordable housing on the east shore, high land prices and high taxes.

The East Shore is presently served by narrow twisty road that tends to be very crowded in the summer. There is also a tendency in both the summer and winter for the ferry to be very overcrowded. This means that people can often be delayed from doctor’s appointment or jobs or other necessities. The road in winter is often unsafe due to lack of maintenance. More traffic will certainly not make it safer.

4. Studies need to be done of the impact of traffic on the east shore communities. In addition, studies need to be done on the impact on summer visitors who encounter crowded roads, noise from helicopters, overcrowded beaches, and lack of access to Kootenay Lake, which is already a big issue, both or locals and for tourists. This proposal could very much have a deleterious affect on tourism.

5. Studies need to be done of the impact of heli-skiing, heli-mountain biking on wildlife, and ecology. Studies need to be done especially on the impact of trail building and lodge building on such endangered species as grizzlies, wolverines, cougars, wolves and many other species.

6. The community needs to be clearly informed about the actual footprint of the proposed lodge, of parking, of sewage disposal, of housing for servers, of lights at night, of where parking will be sited, and many other issues.

7. What is the nature of the actual partnership of the Yaqan Nukiy and Retallack? What are the financial arrangements that have been made? Who in Yaqan Nukiy actually supports this? Do the rest of the Ktunaxa agree with this propsal, since there is a very high possibility according to Wildsight that the grizzly population of the South Purcells will be adversely affected? How does fit with the Yaqan Nukiy creed that they are the protectors of the land in the Kootenays, that their elders have told them in particular to protect the grizzly bears, which are the sacred animals of the Yaquan Nukiy spirituality?

9. What guaranteed protection will the community have for access to the backcountry. Retallack has not been a good neighbour in terms of of access in New Denver and has apparently blocked access to snowmobilers and hikers and tried to shut down competing businesses.

10. What will be the impact of this development on land prices and land taxation? Land prices are already extremely high on the east shore and it is extremely hard for young families to purchase land or be able to live on the east shore.

11. How will this proposal actually balance the promised “economic use of the land with cultural and spiritual values.” What does that specifically mean in practise? How does the project, “ensure long term sustainability and ecological integrity.” How will this project “maintain, protect manage and restore healthy and diverse ecosystems.” What actual strategies would be used to accomplish this?

12. How does this project somehow maintain “carbon neutrality.” In an era when the threat of global climage change is looming, and scientists are calling for definite strategies to limit carbon emission, how does burning helicopter fuel, increased car traffic, creating parking lots and helipads, somehow not create increased carbon emissions?

13. How do mountain bikers speeding down a mountain somehow maintain a hundred meter distance from wildlife? How does person “avoid when seen” wildlife? What kind of “guest training” will be given. How will this enable mountain bikers, skiers, and other people in the back country to not have an impact on wildlife ecology?

14. Who will actually be monitoring and checking on whether people are harassing wildlife by attempting to view them, take pictures, or hover over wildlife with helipcopters? Or will there be any monitoring at all.

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About ingrid

Ingrid has been the owner and editor of The East Shore Mainstreet newspaper for more than twelve years since 2002. She lives and works out of her home in Gray Creek alongside her husband Juergen and children Zoe and Luka.

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